24th September 2014 was not an ordinary day for India. If there was ever a doubt regarding India's capability of joining the leading nations in the field of science and technology, it was washed out on this day. The successful landing of ISRO's Mangalyaan in the Mars orbit has been one of the biggest news of the past year. The only other occasion that probably connects the entire country in a similar fashion is India's big wins in the Cricket tournaments! But just as PM Modi quoted, "This is a much bigger achievement than Indian cricket team's wins, and must be celebrated as such." Within 48 hour of entering the Martian orbit, Mangalyaan sent the first image of Mars, thereby confirming the proper working of its camera which was sitting idle for 300 days during its travel.
What makes this achievement even sweeter is the fact that the entire project has come at the cost of Rs 454 crore, which is even lesser than the cost of the Hollywood space movie 'Gravity'! Another highlight of this mission is that this makes India the first country to successfully reach Mars in its first attempt. Here, it must be noted that the European Union was also successful in its maiden Mars attempt, but since EU is a group of countries, the honour of being the first nation goes to India.
The initial pre planned life of the Mangalyaan was six months. But according to a recent report, ISRO has decided to extend the life of the mission to 1 year. The satellite is equipped with 5 instruments, viz. Mars Colour Camera, Lyman-Alpha Photometer, Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer, Methane Sensor for Mars and MENCA (Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyzer). The objectives of the mission include-
- Deep space communication
- Analyzing the composition of the Martian Surface
- Search for the possible sources of water on Mars
Even though this is one of India's biggest achievements till date, it has unfortunately come under severe criticism from a number of corners. The biggest arguments of the critics is that with such widespread poverty and millions of hunger deaths in the country, shouldn't we be utilizing our resources more on fulfilling the basic needs of our citizens rather than undertaking missions that won't give any immediate fruits.
While this may seem like a valid argument if you do not look at the facts at the first place, it falls flat once you consider the related numbers. The recently passed Food Security Act, which aims to provide food grains to the poor at a highly subsidized price, has a total budget of more than 1 Lakh crore, and if this entire budget isn't enough to eradicate the hunger in India, not much would change it Rs 450 crore were also added to this already humungous budget. Also, the expenses made by ISRO are entirely from its dedicated grant allotted at the time of the annual budget, so it is incorrect to assume that ISRO ate into some other department or scheme's budget for their MOM mission.
What are your reactions to ISRO's amazing feat? Share your thoughts here!